Kevin Kelso is not taking his role as the interim chief of the Beeville Police Department lightly.

The 55-year-old is taking an active role in leading the department because, as he puts it, it’s not his personality to not do exactly do that.

“I wasn’t brought in here to just sit in a chair and just watch things as they go,” Kelso said about his role as the interim chief, a job for which he took his oath of office on Aug. 30. “I was brought in here to make changes and become more efficient and to provide a better service when we can.

“That’s just who I am as a person and that’s what the city manager wanted.”

Beeville City Manager John Benson hired Kelso to replace former Chief Robert Bridge, who retired in late July after about four years atop the department.

Kelso is a 33-year law enforcement veteran. He started his career with the Victoria Police Department in 1987, eventually rising to the rank of captain.

The same year he named captain, he was hired as the chief of the Seguin Police Department, where he served through November 2018.

“I think it all compares relatively the same,” he said about how policing Beeville compares to policing Seguin. “Yeah, they’re different size cities, but it seems like all cities from what my experience has been, experience the same issues.

“The biggest thing that I’ve seen in each city is that you really need to bridge those gaps with the communities and build partnerships so that we can solve crime and make it a safer place for our citizens of course and especially for our business owners.”

He said bridging that gap is one of his top priorities.

“It’s just doing the right things and providing professional service that the community can count on and trust,” he said. “We do that by continually working with our community and building those partnerships.”

Building a rapport with his officers is also of utmost importance.

“I need to be able to walk the talk. If I say we’re going to do something, I need to be able to do it as well,” he said. “They know my experience level, where I’ve come from, what I’ve done. I haven’t always been an administrator. I’ve been a policeman as well. I’ve been a detective as well, I’ve been a sergeant, I’ve been a lieutenant.

“The people we have here, I’ve done the same jobs they have, so at least I can relate to what they’re doing and what they’re going through and why.”

Kelso has been out of law enforcement for nearly two years after resigning as the chief in Seguin. At the time, in a story that appeared in the Seguin Gazette, he cited a lack of confidence in city leaders as the reason for his resignation. That resignation also coincided with an investigation by a San Antonio television station into the department’s creation of a fake police credential that Kelso and his captain said was created as part of a joke.

In his time away from policing, he said his passion for the job never dwindled.

“The burning passion, the drive, has not dwindled one bit,” he said. “I definitely want to be back in the game again. I want to lead an organization again. I think I have the ability to do it.

“That fuels me, leading a department and watching the changes we can make.”

He said the community can expect a hard-working chief who cares.

“The community can expect from me a person who is going to be hard-working, who really cares for the community and who wants to build a bond with the community.”

Kelso is the father of three daughters, ages 31, 28 and 21. He also has two granddaughters, who are 4 and 4 months old.

•kkeller@mysoutex.com•

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Kevin J. Keller is the content director for Coastal Bend Publishing and the editor of the Beeville Bee-Picayune. He can be reached by email at sports@mysoutex.com or by phone at 361-343-5223, or you can follow him on Twitter @beepicsports.